It’s not unusual for those who have completed addiction treatment to suffer a relapse during their recovery.

In fact, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) states that “there is evidence that approximately 90 percent of alcoholics are likely to experience at least one relapse over the 4-year period following treatment”.

While these statistics may be alarming, a relapse does not have to happen to you or your loved one and there are many ways to prevent it. Self-help organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have continuously proven to be very effective in helping addicts achieve long term sobriety.

There are various reasons to why people start using drugs and alcohol again after addiction treatment and in this article; we are going to tell you what causes a relapse.


Feeling pressured and stressed is one of the main causes of relapse back into addiction. In fact, this may have been the reason to why the addict started using drugs and alcohol in the first place.

People use narcotic substances as a temporary solution to dealing with stress, as it has the ability to change how they feel.
It is impossible to remove stress out of our lives, but what we can do is learn how to avoid certain situations that may cause severe pressure by simply changing the way we live our lives.
There are also healthy ways to deal with stress, such as exercising regularly, learning how to manage our time better, eating healthily or even taking up a hobby.

Seeing People or Going to Places that Trigger Cravings

Spending time with people or going to places that played a part in your addictive behaviours is another major protagonist of relapses.
For example, if you were addicted to alcohol and you spend time with people that you once drank with, more often than not it will trigger a craving to drink again.
Also, if you meet up with these people at the bar you used to drink at, the venue alone may cause a trigger to use alcohol. However, this becomes more difficult if the people you started drinking with are family members or the venue you started to binge is unavoidable, such as the workplace or university.
Avoiding these people and types of places may be tough, that’s why it’s important to know how to deal with your feelings, so that you have some sort of rescue act when things get tough.


At some point in our life, we will all feel sad or unhappy. It’s something that we just cannot avoid. However, for those who are recovering from addiction, it’s important for them to know how to handle these types of emotions.
Disappointment, resentment, worry and even loneliness are emotions that have the ability to trigger a relapse and using drugs or alcohol is often an easy escape route away from these problems.

Seeing or Sensing Drugs or Alcohol

Did you know that just seeing alcohol or smelling the scent of the drug you were addicted to can trigger cravings to use the narcotic substance again?
While sometimes that can be totally unavoidable, it’s important to have the necessary skills to be able to deal with these sorts of situations. Top class drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres will usually incorporate these skills in their treatment programs.

Parties and other Festivities

Birthday parties, festive periods and even holidays have the ability to cause a relapse as these are usually times when we are happy and care-free.
For example, you may think that you are able to handle one drink but before you know it, you are now bingeing.
Remember, it doesn’t matter how small it is, it could be one sip or even a tiny puff, that’s all that’s needed to cause a relapse back into addiction.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Alcoholics Anonymous
Narcotics Anonymous

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